“They’re trying to run me outta boxing,” Bernard Hopkins said minutes after losing his belt in contravesial fashion to Chad Dawson via 2nd round TKO. As HBO’s announcing team began to lobby for the no contest, which the fight should have been called, I began to think about how ironic it was that Bernard Hopkins’ career might end in a manner that had embodied his storied life. Though a great technical boxer and a marvel among modern day athletes, at 46 he’s still competing against the top fighters. Bernard Hopkins is a known dirty boxer using a straight right soon followed by a head butt, followed by a clinch to win a decision. Hopkins is also known as one of the biggest, for lack of better word, complainers of boxing. It seemed as though Hopkins was the man who cried wolf so often that the ref seemed to view him as trying to buy time this fight and called it.
For those who did not see the fight this past Saturday, Hopkins began the fight looking sluggish. Max Kellerman commented on how “something looked different.” It was as though we could all sense the tragic ending to a great career. When Hopkins threw a straight right, nobody was there. Dawson, a large 6'2" middleweight who looked much bigger the day of the fight, did not connect much, but had Hopkins stumbling over his own feet to keep out of range. The first round came and went with both fighters landing only 5 power punches each. Dawson was looking just a little bit better due to a quick flurry on the ropes. In the second round, Hopkins was hit with a hook (I believe was a left hook) that seemed to daze him, he looked human and more so he looked like a 46 year old.
With a little more than two minutes left in the round, the bizarre occurance twist came. Hopkins lead with his head and then pushed into Dawson, a frustrated Dawson tried to push him off with an elbow which wasn’t effective. Then, in what may only be rivaled by the Kermit Crinton/Paul Williams fight (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHQA-uznuHk ), Dawson lifted Hopkins up in a half tackle half WWF spinebuster. Even more troubling was the reaction of Hopkins when he hit the canvas, the look of pain was immediate. The ref asked the doctor, not Hopkins, if he could continue and the doctor said “No!” The bell rang, and for over 5 minutes the ref ran around saying, “ I did not call it a foul.” This is a TKO for a failure to fight.
The lack of letting Hopkins choose to continue bothers me, but the actions of the ref made me question the legitimacy of the fight. I had the same funny feeling when I watched Floyd [Mayweather] KO Ortiz who seemed to pose while getting KO’d as if he had been paid to take a dive. This fight, Hopkins-Dawson , left me with that same foul taste. From how fast the ref stopped it, to the lack of asking Hopkins to continue, even the fact that Dawson felt comfortable to tackle someone (although the more that I think about it, I think he didn’t give a damn, so scartch that) leave a bad taste.
If it was rigged or the ref was paid it makes sense, because Dawson set himself up as an unlikable champion calling Hopkins “a coward” and saying, “if he had more heart…” they would have continued fighting. The Cloud and Pascal fights loom in the distance, both of which are nice match ups. The money is there. Dawson is young and marketable. Hopkins is a tatical, boring, and no one wants to watch his fights. People want to see if the old guy can still beat the young bucks. Hopkins’ last three PPV fights have been snoozers for anyone other than hardcore boxing fans, and even then many of us would rather go out and do something else than watch his fight. Hopkins at his age is a promoter’s nightmare. Yet with all this being said, and all the money Hopkins has not produced, Dawson is unproven and when tested looked as though he didn’t even care about fighting. For exmaple, Pascal defeated Dawson in the 11th when both fighters heads clashed, stopping the fight. Dawson was looking good and might have been able to KO Pascal right before this occured. In this Saturday’s fight, the fight ending tackle looked odd to me, but at the sametime Dawson is less of a name than Hopkins and fights in a divison full of names, most of whom no one outside of boxing fans know.
Let’s not forget Bernard Hopkins track record. For example, just look at the Roy Jones Jr II fight. He finally rematches Roy Jones, way past his prime, though in fairness Jones was avoiding Hopkins for a long time. In this fight he wins all but one round on my scorecard, yet in around the 5th or 6th round he took a hit to the back of the head. Hopkins seemed to exagerate the injury to buy time, much to the dismay of the fans (who barely attended this fight). Roy Jones saw this antic rightfully as chickenshit. Even in the replay the punch went behind the back of the head and landed like a slap. Hopkins was allowed time to “recover” and was heavily criticized. To be honest, I view Hopkins career as so long that only his fights in the last 3 to 5 years bare mentioning. Needless to say, Hopkins is known for fouling (the head butt), faking injuries, and for giving media soundbites, “I ain’t never lost to no whiteboy,” before losing to Calzaghe.
With all that said, it felt as though Hopkins’ legacy was on display Saturday as both good and bad aspects of his career where shown. The cry baby antics, the classic footwork, and a strangly bitter end to what may be his career. The strangest things is neither camp wants a rematch. Dawson sees nothing to gain and would rather forfeit the title, if need be, whereas Hopkins’ camp says they would rather go in a different direction. This makes me feel as though Hopkins is thinking about calling it quits. When is the last time he turned down a fight? At the end of the day Hopkins’ career may end as the man who cried wolf one to many times and finally paid for it.
Andre Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) could be and probably should be the best boxer on the planet right now. He’s a former gold medalist, the former lineal super middleweight champion, super six tournament champion, and probably has the strongest resume among the top fighters in every division.
Instead though, he’s a giant question mark in search of fans and identity. His attitude has turned off a lot of fans. His frivolous lawsuit with his former promoter, the late Dan Goossen benched him for basically 2 years. Edwin Rodríguez and Paul Smith (on BET of all places) are the only two fighters he’s fought since 2012. Add in that he was never a “live gate” draw (the highest public figure i could find was 700,000 against Dawson - 7,611 tickets sold) and Ward has a LONG LONG climb to that PPV spot he wants so damn much.
But now Ward is back. He’s looking to fight Sergey Kovalev sometime this year, which would cement him in the top spot imo. First, he’ll have to get through Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) this Saturday (March 26th) on HBO.